Youth Rebellion

After the crash of the stock Market, many adolescents left home in search for employment. Some adolescents would only work enough in exchange for a meal. Most did not have the luxury of owning an automobile, so they would illegally hitch rides from the freight train to get from destination to destination. However, even in the midst of struggle and poverty, adolescents still managed to be rebellious and enjoy their youth through dates and sex.

In Teenage: the Prehistory of Youth Culture, Savage mentions that although the Great Depression left many families unemployed, consumerism was still active among adolescents. American adolescents found the time to go out on dates to the movies and dances, normally with other couples. During these times, there were new dance trends being created. “Dance Marathons” were especially enjoyed in the middle and lower classes. These marathons were typically dance battles where the last couple standing would receive cash. Dance marathons were just an event to enjoy life but also to put money in the people’s pockets to buy a meal. One of the ironic parts of the adolescents dating lifestyle is that while parents were struggling to feed their children, nearly 28 million American adolescents were still going to the movies weekly. While banks were shutting down and businesses were failing, the entertainment industry was still at large due to adolescent support. It is evident that adolescents were determined to appreciate life and technology in this dark era.

Along with dating, adolescents also found sex very enjoyable. Savage stated that the subject of sex caused the greatest tension between parents and children, so why would adolescents not rebel on this matter? It seems logical that adolescents would like to explore their sexuality because parents despised speaking about it.

The reason adolescents loved to go out on dates was because it was suggested that almost after every date there would be some form of sexual encounter afterwards. It was as if boys felt they were entitled to sex because they paid for the date. It is interesting that girls had to be the one to stop the boys from sexually advancing. Girls were taught to remind themselves to stay abstinent and pure while boys searched for a new partner for every date. Society, even in the former years, placed these responsibilities on the female population instead of teaching the male populations to not feel entitled to the female body. Regardless of societal demands of chastity, girls were exploring more of their sexuality and becoming more sexually active.

A negative result to careless, unprotected sex is that it would eventually lead to unwanted pregnancies. During these times, teenage pregnancy was a huge societal taboo. A formal solution to these pregnancies came around in the late 1910s when the first abortion clinic opened. However, the closing of the clinic ten days after its opening showed how much society disapproved of abortions and unwanted pregnancies. Forms of birth control also arose in this decade to deal with potential pregnancies. People wanted to have unprotected sex without the repercussions of having a bastard child.

The Age of Consent laws that were formed in the late 1800s changed the age of females from twelve to sixteen or older, who may consent to being sexually active. In the 1930s, support for the law decreased due to the rising number of females having sex at a younger age. Society did not allow these laws to falter and the age of consent remained the same. This was an example of how society was fighting back against these rebellions. However, these laws did not stop adolescents from having sexual encounters with each other.

Adolescence, overall, is a stage of emotional upheaval and exploration. These findings show that financial struggles or societal views will not impede on the typical growth of an adolescent. There are some positive and negative effects to these rebellious acts by adolescents. Adolescence exploration in the early 20th century created a new culture about dating and technology. Certain stereotypes adolescents placed on themselves back then, such as boys who have the highest number of sexual partners were most successful at dating, shaped some of the ideologies adolescents have now. These ideologies are highly endorsed by the teenage male population of the current age, although the female population looks down upon them. The entertainment industry was able to flourish through the monetary support of adolescents, which allowed the progression of this industry to continue smoothly. In the current day, the American entertainment industry is one of the largest markets. The rebellions of the youth during these times were more than rebellions, they were an aid in advancing society.


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